AFT President Randi Weingarten said yesterday that she wants federally financed performance-pay grants to be bargained collectively as part of contracts.
Although Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan have said that incentive-pay programs should be developed with teachers, they’ve so far been tight-lipped on how far they would take that idea. Now, with a $517 million request on the table for the Teacher Incentive Fund, Weingarten is basically calling their bluff.
“This can’t be about a thousand flowers blooming,” Weingarten told me. “There are things we know are based upon research and practice as well as President Obama’s core principles, and that includes working together collaboratively.”
In a nonbargaining state, she said, districts should take their cues from models such as the Teacher Advancement Program. That school-reform model, run by the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching, requires 75 percent of teachers to vote in favor of adoption.
Weingarten added that the application criteria should require the plans to contain a strong, embedded professional-development program so that the pay creates a structure for teacher improvement.
“You can’t do differentiated pay without alignment to instruction. If you do, it just feels like the old-tie favoritism that was always so bad about merit pay. ... If it’s simply a matter of looking at outcomes, not creating the stairs to success, it won’t work.”
And that would be bad for Obama, who’s staked out his education legacy on using data to reform instruction, she said.
“Instead of the federal Education Department and Duncan just challenging other groups to do things differently, this is their challenge too—enforcing the program, enforcing the key ingredients,” she concluded.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.